On Writing and Mothering

This guest post is by the talented and lovely Brittany Knott. Read more of her beautiful writing on her blog Knee Deep in Lovely.

img_7824

Nothing motivated me to finish the first draft of my book more than my due date.

Because, really, I could have kept dragging it out. I didn’t have a publisher giving me deadlines or demands (or a paycheck, darn it).

But I knew. I had people warn me that when I had kids my margin for things like writing novels would be non-existent. I knew mom life would be different and I couldn’t loiter over a macchiato in a coffee shop.

So I anticipated August 2nd with so much longing to be a mother and so much apprehension about not being able to write when it had taken me thirty years to shed some of my mounds of uncertainty and finally do it consistently.

They were right, you know. It wasn’t the same after she was born. I did put things on hold. In those early days, I could have done more. She slept a lot. But it was inconsistent and I felt I needed long stretches of time. Also, everything about being a mother consumed me whole. For better, for worse.

My sweet doorman would ask almost every day, “How’s the book coming?” And I would duck my messy head and blush and say, “No progress.”

Meanwhile, motherhood began to give me so many things to write about on my blog. I was being broken apart in a way I never saw coming, and it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

If God can use motherhood to refine me, He can absolutely use it to make me a better writer.

He can show me my surroundings, my relationships, my world through a new set of brown eyes. Having someone to care for can’t keep me from writing, but not observing, not breaking apart and not stirring certainly will.

Of course, on a practical level, it is a bit more complicated than before. She is one now and I can’t write when she’s awake.  I can’t wake up before she does and write because she wakes up too early.

She takes two glorious naps a day. I’m trying to force myself to do “chores” while she’s awake (even though she tries to eat the Swiffer and climb inside the dishwasher), so that I don’t feel the pressure to do those while she’s sleeping.

Sometimes I catch myself prepping breakfast food or whatever and I have to stop and say, “This can be done when she’s awake.” And then I’m brought back to the things that cannot be done while she is awake. (Unfortunately that includes watching Undercover Boss). This morning during her nap, I sat out on the terrace and wrote a blog post so I wouldn’t be tempted to fold the laundry (read: pin 100 pictures of clothes I will never own on Pinterest. Real life.)

I will never be the poster child for productivity. In life or in writing. Motivation is hard especially because I don’t actually earn money writing. I know the years ahead (God willing) include more child-rearing, more chaos and less alone time. I’m praying for the grace to still have writing be a part of my life, bending and twisting along with us.

brittany

Brittany Knott lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. Her book, Viv: The Story of a Stray is in the crazy process of getting published. She hopes to use any profits to help fund an adoption.

 

Advertisements

Goodbye George (Thoughts on Motherhood, Guilt & Dreams)

My husband text me to tell me that PBS pulled Curious George from Netflix. My first thought was panic. It’s like the one thing my daughter can watch without getting bored. That and Winnie the Pooh, but I can only handle so much of the same two Pooh movies. At least, the annoying monkey brings some variety.

She’s not ready to let go.

Sometimes when I really need to get work done I stick my daughter in front of the TV.

I feel guilty even writing that. Which is dumb, because I am doing what I can. It’s not like she never goes outside and uses her imagination, sometimes it’s just the only way to keep a 2-year-old occupied without her getting into stuff.

Although, sometimes it is the easy way out for me. When I just need a break, some quiet, some sanity.

I know there are all these blogs full of amazing ideas that are repinned a million times. I know I should be making her sensory bins and helping her do art projects.

Honestly, right now I am just exhausted, mostly emotionally. Life has been smacking me in the face a lot lately and sometimes motherhood just adds to the stress.

I love my daughter more than life. Her laugh and smile and innocence and even mischievous streak make my day, but sometimes I just need a break.

It’s hard, but I know it’s hard for all of us, it’s life. It’s adulthood.

Awhile ago I wrote,

“Maturity happens when we realize hard doesn’t equal bad.”

I guess I know it deep down, but my laziness and desire for comfort just want the easy way out.

I want an “easy” writing job where I don’t feel like I have to put all my heart and soul into it.

I had a job like that for a few months and I just lost it, so I am back to where I was.

This is a battle I’ve fought internally for years:

Am I really gonna do this thing for real, be a writer?

Well yes, I will always write, but should it be more like a hobby?

Am I willing to pour all my last bit of energy into not just getting by with side jobs here and there, but achieving my dream of being a full-time, (and dare I say) successful writer?

When I am feeling emotionally drained, am I willing to sit down at my laptop one more time realizing the best thing I can possibly do for myself, for my marriage, for my daughter is to write, because it’s what fulfills me?

It sounds selfish when I say it like that. But I don’t care.

I don’t believe that the real me has to die with motherhood.

In fact, I actually get to be a better version of myself.

IMG_4881

I may lose myself for a bit, just as I have in any crazy transition in life, but I am still me. I still have dreams that I want to see fulfilled. It doesn’t mean neglecting my family. It just means balance.

That’s why I started this blog in the first place.

I know I am not alone. I know there are other mamas who work hard and feel like they never see the fruit of their toil.

I know it’s hard and frustrating and gorgeous and impossible doing life sometimes.

(But we don’t have to do it alone.)

I’ve got to keep writing. I’ve got to find time. So goodbye, guilt. Goodbye George. I will find another show on Netflix for my daughter and sit down and write.

I will find the balance in play and work, taking care of her, and taking care of myself.

How do you keep your kids occupied while working?

How do you make time to go after your dreams?